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Sonshine Child Care celebrates its identity

Written by Mike Siroky. Posted in Business Spotlight, Featured

Published on January 11, 2012 with No Comments

Sonshine Child Care has at its core a mission of taking care of the youngest residents, children.

It is a Christian environment daycare owned and operated by Victory Christian Church.

A few years ago, it was just a concept. Christy Armold, one of the founders and directors, said the first part of the plan was to do proper research. Then they got accredited by the state.

The parents and caregivers brought the children. Mostly by word of mouth, they have maintained occupancy to the point where often there is a waiting list

“This is what the vision for Sonshine was from the start,” Armold said, surveying three years of success, with the fourth year well under way.

“We assessed what was around us, visiting other daycares.”

An important distinction for Sonshine is that they are Christian-based and strive to offer first-rate care above and beyond the minimum requirements of faith-based daycares.  “So we basically wanted to implement what we learned and to keep to a core belief of quality,” Armold said.

“Ministries have a different list of rules and regulations. Our vision is why can’t we have a childcare center not only Christian-based but one that offers education.”

All of the staff have or are working towards degrees. Being state-sanctioned means the center can accept the school vouchers implemented this year by the state. That is simply more inclusion for single parents who otherwise could not afford private preschool daycare.

“When we went downstate as we started, we found out our requirements,” Armold said.

“That helped define our approach. It took six months alone to just develop what we wanted to be.”

The group has nothing against volunteerism, “But we wanted to step it up a notch,” Armold said. The employee retention is almost 100 percent, which adds to the consistency for parents and the children.

The Christian environment mends well with the statewide requirements for an educational center.

“When we offer a Christian perspective, you cannot beat just pure values for children, ages 3-4-5,” Armold said.

“People think, ‘They’re at that age where they do not need it yet.’ That is not true. The children get a great start on life with respect for others, with interaction with other children. We are teaching about sharing, giving, caring. It matters.

“We prepare them for kindergarten,” Armold said.

The center has a handbook, ever-developing, which outlines for parents what expectations are from their standpoint. Rules are enforced. If a child cannot meet the behavioral standards, they can be asked to leave.

“We adhere to that,” Armold said. We have a right to say it is at our discretion to ask them to find another school.”

With the downturn in the economy, the center is finding the voucher program is another offering that sets it apart from conventional competitors. Armold, who put herself through college at Purdue, relates well to the hard-working parents.

“With people losing jobs, we have to step it up,” Armold said.

“What we have to offer is hoping things will get better while caring for the children.”

She has seen families commit to the daycare to the point younger brothers and sisters soon join the program. “The greatest thing, to me, we get them every time, which means we are doing our job and much like the word-of-mouth reputation, the younger family members are ready to enter the program.”

Another unique offering at Sonshine is the infant room, for babies.

“We meet the state criteria there, too,” Armold said. “It’s pretty stiff but we are dedicated.”

“We have infant care (with more regulations) and no one else does that.

“With state mandates telling you what the expectations are, we make sure everything is up to par. They give you the edge and you meet it.”

 The daycare has been in a brand-new facility since its opening, with a site built especially for the daycare, so even the building was designed with children in mind rather than an adapted environment.

“The parents not only welcome us, they see what we think, ‘Why not put them in an environment in every sense where they can thrive,” Armold said.

Even the daily nutrition is carefully designed for optimum health without including sugary treats.

“We follow the USDA requirements, were they recommend fruit and vegetables,” Armold said. “The state gives us our recommendations and we meet them.”

Safety is a key component to everyone at the center.

“We are locked down each day, we have safety drills,” Armold said.

“While we’re here, it is safety, then nurture, then education.

“We had a vision of it and it evolved to this.

“We’ve been blessed.”

For more information about Sonshine Child Care, 6474 Central Ave. in Portage, call 219-764-8229.

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About Mike Siroky

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the above excellent column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Mike Siroky is a writer and editor. He is a native of Northwest Indiana. He has worked in media from coast to coast. To contact Mike, email mikel@the chronicleNWI.com

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